Updated: Oct 17, 2021
Because networking is such a social activity, there are people who will struggle with it. Those who are shy, not very well connected or who have moved to an area are the people who indeed might run into issues. Fortunately, there are some easy ways to overcome these challenges. Much like other things, it takes some focus and dedication, but in the end, your effort is worth it as it leads to better opportunities for your life.
You have no connections in your industry (or desired industry). There are several reasons why you may find yourself without connections. Maybe you’ve been wrapped up taking care of elderly parents and your own kids or experienced a long-term illness yourself. There are certainly life events that cause you to be less social or able to get out. If you find yourself in this position, start by identifying key players in your industry. Read blogs about what you’re interested in and start forming a good list of questions. Then, search for some people on LinkedIn (both in your geographical area or not) and start up some conversations. Eventually, you’ll build a network of contacts.
You just moved to a new area. When you make a move, it’s necessary to start over in several ways. Go easy on yourself at first and start attending some events that are semi-professional. In other words, their focus is on business but in a more casual way. Bumble Bizz or Shapr are good ways to start meeting people with no pressure. Another good way to meet people is joining a “co-working” space. These spaces usually have very reasonably-priced memberships to office areas where you could meet people from dozens of industries.
You’re painfully shy. Overcoming natural tendencies is perhaps one of the most difficult challenges of networking. Still, if you set some goals for yourself, you’ll get there. For example, tell yourself you’re going to meet five people the next time you attend a networking event. If you’re painfully shy, maybe you start your goal with only one person (or even just walking in the door is the first step). Try to keep in mind that most everyone is nervous and a little bit intimidated at such events, and know that people are thinking more about their nervousness than yours.
While some love the activity and some would rather go to the dentist, networking in some form is necessary in life. If you don’t do it for work opportunities, then you might need a doctor referral or suggestions on where to go to fix your car. You never know when the next person you meet will change your life in some way. And that’s the great thing about networking, so if you have some challenges, use these tips to get started overcoming shyness, lack of connections and moving to a new area.